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Rock Church of St. George in Lalibela, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Highlands including Lalibela

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

9 Days

Prices Start from

$3,048 ex. flights

With an intoxicating mixture of spectacular scenery and fascinating culture and heritage, Ethiopia offers unrivalled diversity. Rock-hewn churches, monasteries and castles decorate the landscape, which has been shaped by a long and rich history that this journey aims to uncover.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Unique monolithic rock hewn Church of St. George (Bete Giyorgis), UNESCO World heritage, Lalibela, Ethiopia 1

Lalibela

Walk through the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

The Chapel of the Tablet, Axum, Ethiopia 2

Ark of the Covenant

Visit the supposed resting place of the Ark of the Covenant in Axum.

Bahir Dar, Zenge murial, Ethiopia 3

Island Monasteries

Explore the beautifully decorated medieval monasteries of Lake Tana

Fasilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia 4

Castles of Gondar

Explore Ethiopia’s ancient imperial capital with its imposing castles

Why we like it

This journey is designed to prioritise chronology, rather than geography. Starting in Axum, you begin with Ethiopia’s ancient history and then move forward through epochs, culminating with the – comparatively young – medieval frescoes of Lake Tana. Given the rich and intricate history of Ethiopia, this carefully chosen order allows for a journey through time, as you uncover one era after another.

Don't forget, we will customise this journey to suit you.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1
    Addis Ababa
  • Day 2
    Addis Ababa - Axum
  • Day 3
    Axum
  • Day 4
    Axum - Lalibela
  • Day 5
    Lalibela
  • Day 6
    Lalibela - Gondar
  • Day 7
    Gondar - Bahir Dar
  • Day 8
    Bahir Dar - Lake Tana - Bahir Dar
  • Day 9
    Bahir Dar - Addis Ababa
Aksumite Empire Ruins, Axum, Ethiopia
Stelae, Axum, Ethiopia

Axum

Axum is Ethiopia’s most ancient capital and the holiest city of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Huge stone stelae, thought to be grave markers, tower over small, stone churches and ancient king’s tombs, while biblical legends of Queen Sheba, King Solomon and the Ark of the Covenant are very much part of this town’s fascinating story.

Join your guide on a walk through Axum’s fascinating Stelae Park, beginning at the earliest sites and moving forward through time. Examine the park’s towering ‘stelae’ – ornately carved stone obelisks that were erected in the third and fourth centuries. The largest of these is the 24-metre-high ‘Obelisk of Axum’.

Man entering Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Lalibela, Ethiopia

Lalibela

Ethiopia’s second holiest town, after Axum, Lalibela contains the most stunning Christian architecture in Africa. Often referred to as ‘New Jerusalem’ and ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’, the town’s eleven beautiful rock-cut churches draw pilgrims from all over the country.

Built during the 12th and 13th century, these religious monoliths are carved from the red volcanic rock. Unique for having been cut into living stone, their construction required the removal of vast quantities of rock.

The highlight is arguably the outlying Bet Giyorgis, often regarded as Lalibela’s most beautiful church. Carved into the shape of Greek cross and perfectly preserved, this masterpiece is best appreciated in the late afternoon sunlight.

Fasilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia
Fasilides Castle, Gondarrr, Ethiopia

Gondar

Founded by Emperor Fasilides around 1635, Gondar was once the imperial capital of Ethiopia. Visit the city’s six castles, littered with tunnels and raised walkways. The most impressive of the buildings is undoubtedly the 17th-century Fasilidas’ Castle, which exhibits Portuguese, Axumite and Indian influences.

Afterwards, visit the peaceful Bathing Pool of Fasilidas, before exploring the elaborately decorated Debre Birhan Selassie Church. Built in the 17th century, this beautiful building owes its survival to an angry swarm of bees, which chased off Sudanese invaders in the 19th century. Its cherub-covered ceiling murals are a highlight.

port at Zenge, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Bahir Dar and Lake Tana

Sitting on Lake Tana’s southern shore, the balmy tropical city of Bahir Dar has earned the unusual moniker ‘The Ethiopian Riviera’. Superyachts and celebrities are conspicuous only in their absence, but palm trees and sparkling blue waters mean that the city is not short on seaside – or rather lakeside – charm.

Take a boat trip on Lake Tana to visit two of the most beautiful churches and monasteries: Ura-Kidane Miheret and the 14th century Azua Mariam. It is believed that the paintings of all the Lake Tana churches and monasteries originate from Azua Mariam and the church is therefore also called ‘The Painting House’.

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
Price
From $3,048 Per person

When to travel

Ethiopia in January

The climate in Ethiopia is divided into two seasons – the west seasons that runs from June to September, and the dry season than begins in October and ends in May. Whilst it is usually advised to travel during the dry season, travelling during both seasons has advantages so it will depend on your travel plans as to which month is best to travel.

Ethiopia in February

It should be noted that from February to June, it can be quite dusty but rainfall will be minimal and average temperatures in February throughout Ethiopia will average in the low 20s.

Ethiopia in March

Even though Ethiopia’s wet season begins in June, the southern regions will experience occasional periods of rainfall from March onwards and temperatures will start to rise throughout the country.

Ethiopia in April

As temperatures are pleasant and prior to the west season, April can be an ideal month to travel to mountainous regions, ideal for trekking.

Ethiopia in May

Prior to the west season, it is not uncommon for May to experience the occasional rainy day with temperatures averaging in the mid-20s.

Ethiopia in June

From June to September, Ethiopia will experience the wet season. Daily rainfall will occur, mainly in the northern territories of the country.

Ethiopia in July

The months of July and August are the peak months in Ethiopia’s wet season. The southern regions of the country will experience the rains first as they move on to the North from June onwards.

Ethiopia in August

August can be a great time to visit some of the Southern tribes in Ethiopia, particularly in the Omo Valley. However, it should be noted that there are dramatic differences in temperatures from day to night, where the evenings are much cooler.

Ethiopia in September

September is a good month to travel to Ethiopia. Just before the peak tourist season begins, there will be marginally less rainfall and the beautiful countryside comes to live as a result of the wet season.

Ethiopia in October

October marks the start of the dry season which runs through until May. This is the best time to visit Ethiopia as after the heavy rains from June to September, the landscape will have flourished and so everything will be in full bloom.

Ethiopia in November

Throughout the peak months, from the end of September until January, accommodation can get busier, particularly as many festivals take place in Ethiopia. Generally, Ethiopia will experience long days of sunshine and minimal rainfall.

Ethiopia in December

In December, it is very uncommon to experience much rainfall throughout Ethiopia however, the temperatures in each region of Ethiopia will vary. The eastern areas of Ethiopia experience daily temperatures in the mid-30s yet the mountainous regions will be cooler due to the altitude.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?


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